Germany's largest utility, E.ON SE, is asking federal regulators for support for its gas-fired power plants. The Irsching 4 and Irsching 5 plants are struggling to turn a profit as a weak economy dampens demand, coal remians cheaper, and new renewable energy requirements undercut natural gas, Bloomberg reported.
Niether the 550 MW Irsching 4 nor 845 MW Irsching 5 plants have been open for more than three years. Yet, just this December E.ON said it wanted "economic compensation" for owners of Irsching 5 plant, which only operated a quarter of the time in 2012.
"Irsching 4 is facing similar problems as Irsching 5 and we're looking for a similar solution," said Christian Drepper, a spokesman at EON.
The Irsching 4 plant is operating efficiently, EON officials said, but it still cannot make a profit.
"Even state-of-the-art, gas-fired power plants cannot be operated profitably," said Daniel Seidenspinner, an analyst at B. Metzler Seel Sohn & Co. KGaA. "That confirms how much renewable energies affect the profitability of conventional power plants. The runtime of the power plants declines and also the wholesale prices for electricity."